Sweet Honey In The Rock Returns With 'Grace'

Sweet Honey In The Rock i i

Members of Sweet Honey in the Rock perform with The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in Hope Boykin's Go in Grace. Paul Kolnik hide caption

itoggle caption Paul Kolnik
Sweet Honey In The Rock

Members of Sweet Honey in the Rock perform with The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in Hope Boykin's Go in Grace.

Paul Kolnik

The Grammy-winning female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock recently returned to NPR's Studio 4A to give Tell Me More an update on what its members have been up to in the past two years. They've kept busy.

The group celebrated its 35th anniversary by teaming up with another seminal performing group, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Ailey is celebrating 50 years in the performing arts. The result of their collaboration, Go in Grace, is a touring production featuring original songs from Sweet Honey.

Host Michel Martin asked the women about another special performance in early 2009. Sweet Honey in the Rock was invited to participate in the first concert of Barack's Obama's presidency in the White House — a performance with 180 schoolchildren in honor of Black History Month.

"[It was] a grand celebration," group member Ysaye Barnwell says. "There was the history and there was the future coming together in this amazing way, all at the same time ... it was lovely."

Sweet Honey in the Rock features six women who tour the world spreading messages of hope and peace through music. But group member Carol Lynn Maillard notes that 23 women have been a part of the group since its inception in 1973.

Martin asked the women if there could ever be a new generation of Sweet Honey.

"We have some ideas about what we might want to consider doing down the line, and we will hold on to that for now," Maillard, one of the ensemble's original members, says.

Whatever the women decide, Sweet Honey's members say they're determined to keep their tradition of music alive and find a way to spread their message for future generations.

"We feel that this is an institution," Barnwell says. "So if that is the case, it has to be preserved as an institution and continue as an institution."

The next performance of Go in Grace takes place Oct. 23 at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C.

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